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benny_cutey.jpgToday is the final day to sign a petition and send an email to the NYC Dept of Health to save off-leash hours in New York City Parks for New York’s dogs.
Please, please, please go to NYC Offleash and help Benny and his buds. It’s easy, it’s quick, and today’s the last day before a public hearing on the issue.
You don’t have to have a dog to vote or send an email. Just a heart.

Here’s a press release issued by NYC Dog, a coalition of thousands of New York City dog owners, all of whom also are voter.
For Immediate Release
WHAT: Press Conference to Support Off-Leash Policy – Health Board Meeting to Follow
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 1st, 12-1:30 PM
WHERE: Foley Square (Worth & Centre Sts) Park across street from DOH; 125 Worth Street.

BACKGROUND: A small Queens-based group misguidedly sued the City about the City’s off-leash policy. A judge may rule on the case by the end of the year, based on the law. However, as it often does, the City is moving to clarify the law. This will likely prevent further misguided and costly lawsuits, and render the case’s decision moot.
THE LAW: While the Health regulations say that dogs have to be on leash, the Parks regulations say that the Parks Commissioner may permit dogs off-leash in City parks. Also, the City Charter empowers the Parks Commissioner to establish Citywide regulations for the use of parks, which have the full force of law. For twenty years, the Parks Commissioner has allowed dogs off-leash in City parks. This current off-leash policy is only in designated locations and only during limited times (9 pm until parks close, and when they re-open until 9 am).
TODAY (NOV. 1): Today, the Health Board is hosting a public hearing for comments upon their proposed changes to the off-leash policy, from 2-4 PM at 125 Worth Street. Under the City Administrative Procedures Act, the Parks Department requested that the Board amend their own regulations to clarify and explicitly authorize the Parks Department’s off-leash policy. Thus, the Board proposed these changes to their own regulations.
PROPOSED CHANGES: This proposal states that the Parks Commissioner clearly has the authority to establish regulations allowing dogs off-leash in City parks. In addition, the Health Dep’t changes call for dog-owners to provide proof of their dog’s current rabies vaccination and license information. The proposed Health changes also call for the Parks Dep’t to promote awareness of the places and times dogs may be allowed off leash in parks.
MAKE PARKS SAFER: Parks has said that the presence of vigilant dog owners in parks everyday during early morning and late evening hours makes parks safer. Among other factors, police data also suggests a deterrent effect.
BITES ARE DOWN DRAMATICALLY: Health Department statistics show that prior to the off-leash policy, the annual number of dog-bites Citywide exceeded 40,000. In 2005, the number of dog-bites dropped to less than 4,000, of which only 86 (2.2%) occurred in City parks. Also, for 2006, bites are down 10.3% from last year.
OFF-LEASH EXERCISE AND SOCIALIZATION: These low dog-bite numbers could drop further, but always leashing dogs could cause more bites, since aggression could rise without exercise and socialization. Many studies confirm that dogs who get off-leash exercise are much less aggressive, and can cope with surroundings. In short, a tired dog is a good dog. With few dog runs, off-leash park activity is the best way to tire and socialize dogs.
LIMITED PARK SPACE: NYC operates 1,700 parks but there are only 44 dog runs for 1.4 million City dogs.
RESPONSIBLE DOG-OWNERS: Understanding this limited space, responsible dog owners contribute time and money to maintain parks. They use peer pressure to ensure that people pick up waste, comply with the law, vaccinate, license and train their dogs. They never condone bad behavior. They are also parents, athletes, and bird-watchers, and want to see parks safely and responsibly enjoyed by everyone. They favor these amendments.
OVERWHELMING PUBLIC SUPPORT: Through the efforts of NYCdog groups and concerned citizens, over 12,000 petition signatures, postcards, letters, and e-mails were collected for submission to the Department of Health in support of the proposal. Copies will be delivered to the Department of Parks and Recreation, The Mayor, and City Council Speaker.
1. Bob Marino – NYCdog President
2. Mary McInerney – FIDO Prospect Park; NYCdog VP
3. Matt Parker – Friends of Hillside Park; NYCdog Sect
4. Terri Sullivan – Juniper Valley Park Dog Association; NYCdog Treas.
5. Trudy Kawami, PhD, – Sunset Park Dog Owner’s Group; NYCdog Board
6. Mia Nitchun – Central Park PAWS; NYCdog Board
7. Matt Greller – NYCdog attorney; pro bono BLANK ROME LLP
8. Rissa Peckar – Marine Park dog owners group
9. Katy Stewart – Dog Trainer
10. Virginia Hoffmann – Dog Training and Behavior Consultant
11. Parveen Farhoody – President of Behavior Matters
12. Daisy Okas – American Kennel Club
13. Jane Hoffman, NYC Bar Association, Animal Law Committee Chair
14. Frank Cahill – Freedom Run, Little Neck Park, Queens; Dog Trainer
15. Betsy Goldman, Friends of Animal Care and Control
16. DeTroy Kistner, Urban Canine Conservancy
17. Garo Alexanian – Exec. Producer, companion animal network tv
18. Tine Jardin – Member of public
19. Carmine Petracca, MD – ABOG; Member of Public
20. Doug MacDougal – Member of public
21. David Singer, FIDO Member of Public
Contact numbers for any/all speakers upon request